Velasca Milano: New Breed of Italian Shoes – Traditional, High Quality, Comfortable; yet NOT Out-of-this-World Price
When in Milan, what do men do?
I buy shoes. It is not every day that I can buy Italian shoes in Italy. Sure, some prefer British shoes and others like French but for me, it’s always Italian: so comfortable to walk in when visiting museums all day!
I was recently in Milan for business. I didn’t have time for sightseeing but managed a half-day off, so I asked my good Italian friend where would I find nice “value” shoes. Interestingly, despite owning lots of luxurious goods, he said: “Don’t be blinded by the big brand names when it comes to shoes. Look for a good shoe maker and the shop that they sell from. I think you should visit here…..[pointing at map].”
A Walk in Sunshine
Whether by chance or design, it was a short walk from my hotel. It was a scorching hot day. While humidity was relatively low, walking under the sun without any shade has to be at a measured pace. Passing through Sempione Park is the closest route from the city center so I decided to walk to enjoy the sun.
Located in Arco della Pace district, the Velasca Milano shop is found at: 2 Piazza Sempione, 20154 Milan
The shop was…well…smaller than expected and opens at noon (12:00 – 16:00; 17:00 – 21:00 on weekdays). When I arrived at a little past noon, there were already two customers entrenched and the place was literally full but the shop manager, Alicia, was taking care of each customer to make sure the shoes were comfortable and check the stocks as well as what was arriving the following day from the factory, for those who wanted models that were not there.
I ‘smelt’ something good about this shop already.
Now, I asked when and how this “brand” started. Here are the stories, which you can also find on its website: VELASCA MILANO.
What does “Velasca” mean?
“After the Second World War burnt Milan to the ground, the locals erected the Velasca Tower as a powerful symbol of Milanese innovation and rebirth. Just like the tower, craftsmanship emerged from the destruction of war to be a pillar of the national industry. It helped to rebuild Italy after the war, only to be later crushed by something else — mass production. So we started from there, inspired by the Torre Velasca — a symbol of Milanese strength, resilience, and skill. Like the tower, Velasca represents innovation and rebirth, restoring the value to traditional craftsmanship and high-quality products.”
It is a fitting (sic) name to match the Milanese spirit.
How was the brand born and how did they progress?
Concept – “We transcend the ever-changing trends of fashion to deliver a timeless style that values tradition — like the time-honored secrets passed down from a father to his son. Our shoes are made with passion and unique Italian expertise, ensuring your shoes will last a lifetime. We believe high quality craftsmanship should be accessible to all. And, by leveraging innovations with online shopping, we’re able to cut out the middle-man and connect our artisans to the people. So, feel at-ease knowing that innovations in our distribution and communication process makes us closer to you.”
It sounds like truly 21st century retailing with full usage of Information Technology, yet their core value is tradition and time-honored high quality shoes with no compromise.
The Bumpy Road – A long story but this is the true spirit of craftsmanship, so please bear with me.
“Our story started when our passion for Italian craftsmanship — how shoes should be made — met our desire to jump in on a new challenge. By the end of 2012, we realized there was a gap in the market between exorbitantly priced high-end luxury labels that produce high quality hand-crafted goods, and fast-fashion labels that offer cheap but poor quality products that do not meet the standards of the discerning shoe lover. We’re dreamers, and some may even say we’re crazy. We quit our jobs to start our own company with nothing more than a vision to change the world of shoes. We embarked on a trip, searching for the best hand-made shoes in all of Italy. We travelled all over the country until we found ourselves in Montegranaro, where the city lives and breathes the art of shoemaking.
We started out working with a family from the Marches, who ran a small shoemaking business out of the basement of their house. From the mother and father, to their sons and daughters, to the aunts and uncles — the entire family could make shoes. It was here that we learned to value the intimate details, and unique process for achieving quality. From the mother’s picture of a famous Italian actor, which she hung next to the crucifix in the kitchen to brighten up her day, to the father who spent his entire week driving through the hills, to the lace maker or the man who imprints the logo on the sole. Each artisan contributes a step, each family makes their mark. The privilege of working with these families and these artisans, has been our biggest success to date. Without them, we would not have access to this secret world of shoemaking artistry, hidden from the world, confined by the limits of traditional distribution. We represent them and share their stories with the world.”
In the Cradle of the Big Brands
Montegranaro is the best shoe-making region worldwide for hand-made shoes from the best calfskin in the world as some shoe aficionados would agree. Some of the artisan families that Velasca works with also supply some of biggest names in Italian fashion brands, if I may add.
I cannot help comparing this with watchmaking. Tradition, skills, and spirit all came down from the father to the son(s) and inevitably some families disappear into history. It is getting harder to find the true time-honored tradition in watchmaking, too.
Now, these young entrepreneurs who honor tradition, Co-Founders Mr. Enrico Casati and Mr. Jacopo Sebastio, are challenging the old industry with today’s technology – direct, no middle-man, e-commerce with the “feel” of direct visit to the shop. As a result, very high quality, best of Italy, at down-to-earth price.
From sneakers to loafers to boots to lace-ups: USD 175 to USD 295.
When in Italy, you must seek a nice pair of shoes. If you do visit Milan, this shop is not to be missed (or in Rome and Turin, where they have branch shops).
Better still, they have a very well-made e-commerce website, where you can order from all around the world. I bought a pair of Velasca Milano shoes at the shop and Alicia, the store manager wrote down my size for Summer Collection shoes, boots, loafers, and lace-up shoes – so kind and making it easy to order online going forward.
When it comes to shoes or clothes, it has been always ideal to visit the shop, try a few on and find the best fitting one for you. But this brand and its website would change such experiences – they will exchange for free. The distance to Italy, when it comes to buying a pair of shoes just got really short. If you are looking for a truly comfortable shoes with super high quality made by the traditional family atelier, this is the one to check out.
About the Author
Ken Hokugo is a contributor to AlphaLuxe who is based in Japan but a citizen of the world. During his travels, he brings us tales of wine, food and other epicurean delights. He is also a Moderator-at-Large for the respected horology website PuristSPro.com and writes extensively about wristwatches in English and Japanese publications.